A Warning to the Iraqis
Since quite a while I had been scribbling down notes for this "ZNet Commentary" on scraps of paper. To mark them, as I usually do, I noted at the top, as a key word, the word "Gothic" (see below). Then on December 9, 2006 Micky Z wrote an article in ZNet with the title: "Don't expect U.S. to create democracy in Iraq (lessons from Greece)". In it Micky Z describes the "excellent example [of] post-WWII Greece" and ends his piece with the phrase: "The moral of the story: Iraqis hoping for democracy shouldn't hold their breath."
Having lived that "excellent example" I feel that I can add some details that can strengthen the warning by Micky Z to the Iraqis about democracy.
The bloodbath (over 160,000 dead) created by Britain and the US in Greece in the late 1940s is referred to in history books as a "civil war". It was not a "civil war". The US and Britain had to prevent the adoption of a leftist way of life by the Greeks. The greatest part of this "benevolent" Christian operation of stifling the wish of the majority of a people was carried out by the US (under Truman). How could this be accomplished? Through a centuries old method: divide and rule. The US chose a part of the Greek society (the elites and part of the middle class, about 30% of the population) and "used" it as a proxy army against the rest of the people. The US-chosen part was armed with the military technology of the US, even with napalm, and its elite was financed (that is, its morality was "bought") with the tax dollars of the US population.
Sixty years later the US is applying the same method in the bloodbath it is carrying out in Iraq. A part of the Iraqi population is armed and financed by the US to fight the rest of the population.That the US, whether through the stupidity of Bush, or through the incompetence of Rumsfeld et al, or through the evil nature of Cheney, used American soldiers to invade and occupy Iraq instead of "using" the native Iraqis as proxies from the beginning, is irrelevant. The ultimate aim of the US (was and) is to use a native proxy as an instrument for achieving its objective.
But, what (was and) is the objective of the US? Let us dwell a bit on the content of this "objective".
"There is no magic formula to solve the problems of Iraq. However, there are actions that can be taken to improve the situation and protect the American interests." This is the first paragraph of the volume that contains "The Iraq Study Group Report". It is the first paragraph of the "Letter from the Co-Chairs". The Co-Chairs being: James A. Baker, III [!!!], and Lee H. Hamilton.
"With the crisis in Lebanon [of last summer]...there is a chance to reassert American leadership and salvage U.S. interests." This time it is Joseph R. Biden, Jr. US Senator. [International Herald Tribune, July 29-30, 2006]
All these gentlemen are adults who in their biographies are characterized as well-informed and common sense people. For them the paramount objective is the "American interests."
But, what does the expression "American interests" mean? Does it mean cheap oil for the cars of ordinary Americans? Or, markets for the labor of the American workers? Or, respect for the US by the rest of the world for the US benevolence? Or, the benefit from the creation of a better world by the promotion by the US, say, of the... music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Handel? Does it mean the Hitlerite obsession to... conquer the world? And so on. And, are these "US interests" the interests of he US miners in Appalachia or the interests of the blacks in New Orleans? Also, what if the "US interests" clash with the wish of the peoples of the world who strive to merely stay alive in front of the violence that accompanies these "American interests"?
Do the above gentlemen really know what the expression "US interests" means? Certainly, they must have realized, by now, that these interests are very "strange" interests. The post-9/11 pursuit of the "US interests" has resulted in greater danger not only for Rumy, who will think twice before visiting Berlin, or Belgium, etc, but also for the ordinary Americans in and out of the US.
Finally, what happened to the Christian dictum of "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"? [Mark12:31]. How can you love your neighbour, if you strive to "salvage [your own] interest" and not only in Lebanon or Iraq? This is another "strange" aspect of the US, given the fact, that in the US 91 - 97% of the people believe in God compared, for example, with Sweden where 46 - 85% of the population are atheists or agnostics. What is even more strange is that no one hates the Swedes.
But, let us return to the "excellent example" of Greece in the 1940s. The bloodbath was not enough. For the occupation to be sustainable (i.e. permanent) it was necessary to, also, invade the country culturally. The most effective way to do that is by indoctrinating the young; the teenagers.
Thus, while in high school in Athens, in the 1940s, the teacher handed out to us in the class a 64 page little booklet (4" by 5.5"). On the front cover there was a colored picture of the American eagle with the American flag as a background. On the back cover there was a printed message: "Give it to a friend". The booklet was stamped: "Gift of the U.S. Information Service" (USIS) and, as indicated, was "Printed in the United States of America". After a few issues the size of the booklet was increased to 5.5" by 7" and the pages to about 80.
A colored front cover (of one of the booklets) that was imprinted in my mind (at the age of 15 or 16) was the painting "American Gothic" by the American painter Grant Wood. I was impressed by the desiccated appearance of the farmer and his daughter and repulsed by the austere expression in their faces. [I use the word "austere" (morally strict, harsh, stern), because as a Greek word it is in everyday use in the Greek family and in school]. I have the feeling that the USIS propagandist made a rather bad choice in presenting the Iowa farmer-preacher and his daughter to the young Greeks.
As for the contents of the booklets they were the ones expected for a propaganda operation. There were articles as: "Soldiers Without Uniforms" (meaning the tanks) by a Don Eddy from the magazine "American"; "Music in America" by a David Ewen from the magazine "Common Ground"; "The American Indians in the War" a paean about the Indians by a Charles B. Wilson from the magazine "Week" (do not forget that this was in the 1940s); "How America is Ruled" by Charles A. Beard from his book "Democracy"; "A Hymn to Greece" by Earl Warren, Governor of California; The entire Volume 2, No. 6 issue (of 96 pages) was dedicated to all the American regions. And so on. [One strange detail: the booklets have no date printed on them.]
In parallel, the adult middle class was treated to the same kind of indoctrination. This time the "instrument" was a "Reader's Digest" type of magazine. Its first issue appeared in March of 1945. Again, note that this was only three months after the beginning of the British occupation of Greece since the bloodbath started in December of 1944. The name of the magazine was "Eklogi" ("Selection"), it had high brow pretensions, and it targeted the middle class.
The operation was carried out by the daughter of a publisher of "Kathimerini", a right wing paper.The selection of the articles was quite sophisticated. For example there was an article by Walter Lippmann in which he proposed in surprising detail the creation of what he named a "Community of Atlantic Nations" (i.e. Nato!) and that was 1945 (!). In an article (of May 1945) from the "Economist" the tenor was that the Russians, in spite of the millions killed by the Nazis, had a very high birthrate, compared to that of the Europeans, which tacitly meant that there was a future threat from the Commies.
Did this cultural invasion succeed? Things are not that clear.
"In 1962, a secondary-school [high school] student from a rural town in South Korea,..., won an English-language speech contest sponsored by the American Red Cross and was invited to the White house to meet President John F. Kennedy... That teenager, Ban Ki Moon, today is Korea's foreign minister..." and now the new secretary general of the UN, "a stalwart U.S. ally... eager to please his bosses than confront them... (International Herald Tribune, Oct. 2, 2006).
[Parenthesis: The Red Cross has a very "peculiar" history. In Greece, during the 1967 dictatorship, it was not "interested" in protecting the Greeks that were tortured by the US-supervised Greek torturers, as testified by none other than Amalia Fleming, wife of the discoverer of penicillin, who was tortured. Also there is that unbelievable "Spiegel" magazine photo of a Red Cross vehicle having the SS sign on its license plates during WWII.]
So, the US succeeded to inundate the Greek society with persons similar to the above Ban Ki Moon; the persons that constitute the Greek elite, that is, the proxies of the US. However, the mass of the Greek population is deeply anti-American. Nevertheless, the garbage of the Greek media (especially the TV programs) is an exact copy of the garbage of the US media. As expected, things concerning humans are quite complex.
This is 2007, therefore the Iraqis, after the guns will be silent, are going to suffer a US cultural invasion more sophisticated than the rather crude one of Greece in the 1940s. They should be prepared to resist it. And I think they have the strength to do it. They belong to a group of societies, Iraq, Iran, Greece, Egypt, Palestine, etc, one might call "root societies". Societies, that essentially "wrote" the History of the human race. "[T]he puzzling zero - which stood for no number at all - was the brilliant finishing touch...The story begins some 5,000 years ago with the Sumerians, those lively people who settled in Mesopotamia (part of what is now Iraq)". [Robert Kaplan, "The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero", Allen Lane The Penguin Press, London, !999, page 6]. The great Greek mathematicians, Archimedes, Pythagoras, etc, did not have a word for zero! Imagine the suffering for humanity, if, instead of the Sumerians, it was George W. Bush of Texas the one who invented zero!
The murderous gang of George W. Bush will not succeed to stop the progress of humanity that the ancient peoples of Iraq originated.
P.S. A few weeks ago in the Greek TV-news there was a group of young Iraqis in the Greek port of Igoumenitsa who were trying to find food in the garbage containers in the streets of the town. The Greek journalist who was giving us the news ( morally fattened by his western ideals) all that he was interested in was the dollars that the young Iraqis paid to reach Greece after fleeing the US war in Iraq. One of them, not knowing Greek, wrote in his palm with a felt pen the figure of 7,000 (dollars).